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Lightning Round: Canada reportedly to provide exception allowing NHL hub cities

Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver in the running.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Last night, The Canadian Press reported that the federal government will make an exception that allows the NHL to select a Canadian city as one of its hubs if the league returns to play. Canada currently enforces a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country. This measure would provide an exception to that rule allowing for what the article calls a “cohort quarantine” where the players would be isolated from the general public as a group but not from one another.

The three cities generally considered to be in consideration as a hub are Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Last week, several outlets reported that the NHL had mostly decided that Las Vegas would be one hub and was waiting on a decision from the Canadian government as to whether Canada would be an option.

With this decision, it seems likely Toronto will be the second hub. That would put one group of games in the Eastern time zone and one in the Pacific. However, if the goal is to choose two cities that are managing the pandemic well, Vegas and Toronto are less than ideal options. Toronto is still one of the primary locations for new cases in Canada while Vegas has been more concerned with keeping its tourism economy moving than flattening the curve.

From this perspective, Edmonton and Vancouver would be much better choices than Toronto or anywhere in the US. Both have had success limiting new cases with Vancouver and British Columbia in general being one of the better examples of managing the outbreak in North America.

But based on last week’s reporting, Vegas and Toronto are all but decided as the locations primarily due to hotel availability and geographical concerns.

With these new reports, the NHL and NHLPA will likely announce an agreement either today or early next week on the hub city locations thereby crossing off another item from the still lengthy to-do list that needs to be completed before games can resume.

After the hub cities, the primary negotiating points will be around health, safety, and lifestyle inside the hubs. The two groups still need to agree on testing procedures and all other policies around how to minimize the risk of new infections inside the hubs. Part of that will be determining how, if at all, players will be able to interact with their families during their stay inside the hub,

So while this is another step toward resolution of one of the big items on the checklist, many more remain to be resolved over the next couple of weeks if the league wants to hit its timeline of starting training camps in July and games in August.

Other News and Notes

Pierre LeBrun at The Athletic gave an update on his understanding of the movement toward returning to play. He threw some cold water on the idea of Toronto as a foregone conclusion to be a hub city, although to me, that sounds like the NHL trying to make it seem like all three Canadian cities have an equal chance as opposed to the decision being already made.

LeBrun also threw out some potential timelines for after the season and October could be wild.

Through all this, the NHL and NHLPA continue to negotiate the critical date calendar. In fact, one source said both sides had another call on it Wednesday. This much we think we know: If there’s no delay in return to play and the 24-team tournament is played without a hiccup, the Stanley Cup Final could bleed into early October and the NHL draft and the opening of free agency would also be held before the end of October. So Free Agent Frenzy on TSN around Halloween? (It beats having it on July 1, Canada Day, I can tell you that.)

So yeah, the fall could be nutty.

Much like Jesse Puljujarvi in Edmonton, Lias Anderson’s time in New York appears to be done. He will not return to the Rangers for this season and plans to play in Sweden next year. This represents quite a failure for the Rangers who will likely get close to nothing out of their 7th overall pick from 2017 unless they pull of a surprising return in a trade.

Anderson will be an interesting option for teams looking to improve their prospect pool after this season. While things didn’t work in New York, he still seems like an NHL caliber player even if not one who will live up to the hype of a top ten pick.

Unfortunately, this latest development likely signals the end of Andersson’s tenure in New York as he appears set on not returning. I’m sure Jeff Gorton will explore the market to see if there are any takers for the former seventh-overall pick, but I can’t imagine there will be much recouped value.

Scott Burnside talked with Kevin Shattenkirk about his time in New York and his unexpected free agency prior to last season after the Rangers bought him out of his contract. The article doesn’t discuss much about Shattenkirk’s future other than that he is likely to be a free agent this summer, which we already knew. It does offer this tidbit about the Lightning’s thought process in signing him.

At the time of the signing, Tampa GM Julien BriseBois admitted he wasn’t really looking to add another defenseman, having signed Luke Schenn and re-upped Braydon Coburn. But given the relatively modest exposure for the team in terms of value and length, BriseBois felt that signing Shattenkirk was a better use of the team’s assets than trying to acquire another defenseman in the middle of the season.

We’ll close this morning’s news roundup with two terrible stories that put more pressure on the hockey community to make drastic changes to the culture surrounding the game.

First, Katie Strang wrote this morning about a case of sexual harassment and assault against two underage sled hockey players in the USA hockey program.

But the same sled hockey community that would provide such a strong sense of connection would later include two individuals, a male player and a male executive at USA Hockey, whose painful actions would fracture Eberhard’s love for the sport. Over an 18-month period beginning in September 2018, Eberhard, then 16, and a teammate in the national program were sexually harassed by a male teammate and then allegedly victimized again by a then-43-year-old Jeremy Kennedy, who at the time was the general manager of the national sled hockey development program and had positioned himself as the girls’ protector.

Second, Daniel Carcillo and another former CHL hockey player filed a class action lawsuit against the CHL alleging years of abuse disguised as hazing. The lawsuit alleges heinous abuses that were not only known by people in leadership positions but that the head coach encouraged and even participated in the abuse. Depending on your tolerance for this kind of content, you can choose from a couple of different writeups.

Rick Westhead wrote a story at TSN that leaves out most of the worst details of the abuse.

Ken Campbell wrote for THN and included much more detail.

And if you want to review the claims in their entirety, you can view them online.

While many of these allegations have been public in various formats in bits and pieces through interviews, videos, and tweets from Carcillo, seeing them all in one place like this is disturbing. Hockey is currently undergoing a reckoning with regard to its culture and that’s a good thing. No one should have to suffer what is described in the above links. The only way to deal with these issues is to drag them into the light and hold those responsible accountable. So while these conversations are difficult, we should commend the people who continue to speak up and force us to have them because this is the only way the sport can fix itself.